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Best Cities in the UK for International Students

Best Cities in the UK for International Students
Alpina ChariSep 8, 2023

Best Cities in the UK for Overseas Students

The United Kingdom (UK) is one of the most popular destinations for international students who want to pursue higher education in a diverse and vibrant environment. According to the QS Best Student Cities Rankings 2024, the UK has 15 cities that rank among the top 100 student-friendly cities in the world, based on factors such as the quality of education, the cost of living, the cultural and social opportunities, and the safety and security of the area. The best cities in the UK for international students offer excellent academic opportunities, cultural attractions, and social activities for individuals from different backgrounds and interests. 

The UK also has some of the world’s top universities, such as the University of Oxford, Imperial College London, University of Edinburgh, and the University of Glasgow, which offer a wide range of courses and programs for students from different backgrounds and interests. Moreover, the UK has a rich and varied culture, history, and heritage, which can provide international students with a unique and memorable learning experience.  

But which city is the best for you? How do you choose among the many options available?  In this article, we will introduce you to some of the best student cities in the UK, based on various criteria such as living costs, eating out, nightlife, shopping, public transport, etc. Read on to find the perfect city for you! 

What is Considered the Best City for International Students?

A good student city is one that provides an environment conducive to both academic success and a high quality of life. Several factors contribute to making a city an attractive destination for students:  

Quality of Education: A good student city should have reputable universities and colleges that offer a wide range of academic programs and research opportunities. Access to quality education is a top priority for students.  

Affordability: The cost of living, including rent, groceries, and transportation, should be reasonable. Affordable living expenses make it easier for students to manage their budgets without excessive financial stress.  

Employment Opportunities: Job prospects for part-time work or internships are essential for students looking to gain practical experience while studying. A city with a robust job market can help students support themselves financially.  

Cultural and Recreational Activities: A diverse cultural scene with museums, theaters, galleries, and recreational opportunities such as parks and sports facilities enriches students’ lives outside of academics.  

Safety: Safety is paramount. A safe city provides peace of mind for both students and their families, allowing them to focus on their studies without worrying about their well-being.  

Transportation: An efficient public transportation system, including buses, trams, subways, and trains, makes it easy for students to navigate the city and reach their educational institutions without hassle.  

Housing Options: A variety of housing options, including student accommodations, affordable rentals, and housing for international students, ensure that students can find suitable places to live.  

Cultural Diversity: A diverse and inclusive environment allows students to interact with people from different backgrounds, learn about new cultures, and broaden their perspectives.  

Student Support Services: Universities should offer comprehensive student support services, including academic advising, counseling, career services, and assistance for international students.  

Quality of Life: A good student city should offer a high quality of life, including a good standard of living, clean and well-maintained public spaces, and a sense of community.  

Student-Friendly Policies: Student-friendly policies, such as discounts on public transportation, cultural events, and student ID cards, can make life easier for students.  

Best Cities in the UK for International Students 



London is one of the most popular destinations for international students who want to pursue higher education in a vibrant and diverse city. London has been named the best student city in the world for the fifth year running by QS in the 2024 Best Student Cities Ranking. It has received an overall score of 100, scoring high on factors such as student view, student mix, and rankings, while receiving a low score on affordability. Additionally, the city has 18 of the world’s top universities – as listed in the QS World University Rankings, and opportunities to go on to work at many household-name companies. London’s ranking reflects its reputation as a global center of excellence for education, culture, and innovation.

London has a rich cultural and historical heritage, with many world-famous attractions, museums, theatres, and landmarks. Students can enjoy the arts, entertainment, and leisure opportunities that London offers, as well as learn about its history and traditions. London is a dynamic and cosmopolitan city, with a vibrant and diverse economy. Students can explore various career paths and opportunities in London, as well as gain valuable work experience and skills. Additionally, the city is home to many leading industries, such as finance, media, technology, fashion, and tourism. Students can also access internships, placements, and part-time jobs in London’s thriving job market. 

Many services and facilities in the city cater to students’ needs and preferences. Students can find affordable accommodation, transport, food, and entertainment options in London, as well as discounts and offers for students. Students can also join various clubs, societies, events, and activities that suit their hobbies and passions. 

Top Universities  University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University College London, Imperial College London, LSE, etc. 
Average Single Apartment Rent  1500-1600 GBP 
Transport Pass Cost  150 GBP 
Minimum Wage 11.95 GBP/hr 

Suggested Reading: Best Universities in the UK: Courses and Fees



Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of the most popular destinations for students in the UK. It is a city of contrasts, where ancient history meets modern culture, and where natural beauty meets urban excitement. Edinburgh has something for everyone, whether you are interested in arts, festivals, sports, nightlife, or nature. 

As a student city, Edinburgh offers a high quality of education, with five universities and many colleges to choose from. The University of Edinburgh is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, ranking 4th in the UK for research. It has a green campus with a lot of green space and a green travel policy.  It also has a wide range of accommodation options for returning students, including flats across the city.  Edinburgh has a vibrant and diverse culture and is also a great place to live as a student. The city hosts 12 festivals throughout the year, including the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe. 

Students can enjoy comedy, theatre, music, and more at various venues across the city. Edinburgh also has a lively nightlife scene, with clubs, pubs, and bars to suit every taste and budget. If you prefer a more relaxed evening, you can visit one of the many museums and galleries in the city, most of which are free to enter. Edinburgh is a wonderful city to study and live in, but it is also an expensive one. You may need to budget carefully and look for ways to save money as a student in Edinburgh.

Top Universities  University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University
Average Single Apartment Rent  1100 GBP 
Transport Pass Cost  57 GBP 
Minimum Wage 10.42 GBP/hr 

Suggested Reading: A Guide to the UK Study Visa



Manchester is one of the most diverse and dynamic cities in Europe. It is a city of culture, history, innovation, and entertainment. Manchester offers a wide range of academic opportunities, with five universities and many colleges to choose from. The University of Manchester is one of the top universities in the world. It also has a large and diverse student population, with over 40,000 students from 160 countries. Manchester Metropolitan University is another popular choice, especially for students who want to study creative subjects such as art, design, fashion, and media. It has a modern campus with state-of-the-art facilities and a strong reputation for graduate employability. 

The city is home to some of the world’s most famous music bands, such as Oasis, The Smiths, Joy Division, and The Stone Roses. You can enjoy the city’s music scene at various venues across the city, from small pubs to large arenas. You can also experience the city’s nightlife scene, which has clubs, bars, and pubs for every taste and budget. There are also multiple attractions in the form of theatres, museums, and art galleries, such as the Manchester Museum, Manchester Gallery, or the John Rylands Library. There are shopping centers in the city, which make it an exciting and bustling hub, such as Afflecks Palace, Arndale Centre, Trafford Centre, etc.

Manchester is not only a great city to study and live in, but also a great city to work in. There are many employment opportunities for students in Manchester, both on-campus and off-campus. You can find jobs that suit your skills, interests, and availability, and earn some extra money while gaining valuable experience. Manchester is also an affordable city, compared to other big cities in the UK. 

Top Universities  The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Salford
Average Single Apartment Rent  800 GBP
Transport Pass Cost  65 GBP 
Minimum Wage 10.18 GBP/hr 

Suggested Reading: Scholarships for International Students in the UK



Glasgow is the largest and most populous city in Scotland and one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in Europe. It has a rich history, culture, and architecture, as well as a lively nightlife, music scene, and shopping areas. Glasgow is also a great student city, with three major universities and many colleges offering a wide range of courses and degrees. Students can enjoy world-class tourist attractions, such as museums, art galleries, and historic buildings, as well as the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the locals. Glasgow has been named the world’s friendliest city by a Rough Guides survey, and the UK’s friendliest city by the Time Out Index 2022. The city is also known for its humor, creativity, and resilience. The city receives plenty of rainfall throughout the year, but also enjoys some sunny days and clear skies. 

There are many student attractions in Glasgow, from bars and nightclubs to cinemas and theatres. Students can also explore the city’s green spaces, such as Kelvingrove Park, Botanic Gardens, and Pollok Country Park. For more cultural and educational experiences, students can visit the Gallery of Modern Art, the Riverside Museum, etc. The cost of living in Glasgow is relatively affordable compared to other UK cities, especially in terms of housing, transport, and entertainment. Students can also benefit from various support funds and scholarships offered by universities and colleges. There are also many employment opportunities for students in Glasgow, both part-time and full-time. Some of the most common sectors include retail, hospitality, customer service, administration, education, and health care.

Top Universities  University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University
Average Single Apartment Rent  800-900 GBP 
Transport Pass Cost  55 GBP
Minimum Wage 10.18 GBP/hr

Suggested Reading: All About UK PSW (Post Study Work) Visa



Birmingham is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom, located in the heart of the country. It has a rich history of innovation, culture, and diversity, and offers a vibrant and affordable student life. Here is a paragraph that summarizes some of the main aspects of living and studying in Birmingham:  Birmingham is home to five universities, two of which rank among the top 500 in the world. The University of Birmingham and Aston University are both renowned for their research excellence and employability prospects. Birmingham has a thriving student population of over 80,000, making it one of the youngest and most diverse cities in Europe. 

Students can enjoy the city’s many attractions, such as the Bullring shopping center, the Custard Factory creative hub, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Cadbury World chocolate factory, etc. The city also has a lively nightlife scene, with bars, clubs, and venues catering to all tastes and budgets. Birmingham is also well connected to other parts of the UK and the world, thanks to its international airport and railway network. Students can easily travel to London in just over an hour by train, or explore other destinations such as Manchester, Liverpool, Oxford, and Edinburgh. The cost of living in Birmingham is much lower than in London or other major cities in the UK. There are also many opportunities for students to find part-time work, placements, or internships to supplement their income and gain valuable experience. The city has a growing tech sector, as well as offices for many international companies. 

The people of Birmingham are generally very friendly and welcoming to newcomers. The city has a diverse and multicultural population, with people from different ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds living together harmoniously. The city is also known for its distinctive accent and dialect, which can be hard to understand at first but adds to its charm and character. Birmingham has a strong sense of community and pride, with many local events and festivals celebrating its culture and heritage. Some examples include the St Patrick’s Day Parade, the Chinese New Year Festival, and the Birmingham Literature Festival. 

Top Universities  University of Birmingham, Aston University, Birmingham City University
Average Single Apartment Rent  850-1000 GBP
Transport Pass Cost  60 GBP
Minimum Wage 10.18 GBP/hr 

Suggested Reading: How to Work and Study in the UK



Bristol is a vibrant and diverse city in the southwest of England, with a rich history, culture, and creativity. It is home to two world-class universities, the University of Bristol1 and the University of the West of England, which attract students from over 150 countries. Bristol offers a variety of student attractions, such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, the Banksy street art tours, and a lively nightlife scene with clubs, bars, and live music venues. Bristol is also an eco-friendly and innovative city, which was named the European Green Capital in 2015 and the best city for entrepreneurs in 2015. Bristol has a temperate climate, with mild winters and warm summers.

Bristol has a friendly and welcoming community, with a strong sense of social inclusion and respect. Bristolians are known for their openness and willingness to help. The city has many community activities and events that bring people together, such as festivals, markets, sports, and volunteering opportunities. Bristol is also a diverse and multicultural city, with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions living in harmony.  The cost of living in Bristol is relatively high compared to other UK cities, but still lower than London. However, there are also many ways to save money and enjoy life in Bristol, such as using public transport, cycling or walking, shopping at local markets or discount stores, and taking advantage of student discounts and offers. Bristol has many employment opportunities for students, both part-time and full-time. There are jobs available in various sectors, such as retail, hospitality, customer service, administration, education, health care, media, and IT.

Top Universities  University of Bristol, University of the West of England, Bristol Filton College
Average Single Apartment Rent  1000-1200 GBP 
Transport Pass Cost  87 GBP 
Minimum Wage 10.18 GBP/hr 


In conclusion, the UK is a diverse and dynamic country that offers a range of benefits for international students. Whether you are looking for academic excellence, cultural richness, or social opportunities, the best cities in the UK for international students have got you covered. Although we have listed some of the most popular cities, this is not an exhaustive list, and there are many other cities that you can explore and consider for your higher education in the UK. Ultimately, the best city for you depends on your personal preferences, goals, and budget. We hope that this article has helped you to get a glimpse of the different options available and to make an informed decision about your future study destination. For more information about the same reach out to us at Gyanberry. Book your free video call appointment now! 

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Some of the most popular student cities in the UK are London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham, and Birmingham.

The amount of money you need to study and live in the UK as an international student depends on several factors, such as course fees, your accommodation type, your location, and your lifestyle. According to the UK government, you will need at least 1,265 GBP per month if you study in London, or 1,015 GBP per month if you study outside London.

Choosing the best city for you in the UK depends on your personal preferences, goals, and budget. You should consider various factors such as the quality and reputation of the universities in the city, the living costs and affordability of the city, the availability and accessibility of public transport and other amenities, the cultural and social activities and attractions in the city, the climate and weather conditions in the city, etc. 


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